Icky and yuck are common reactions when humans catch their canine companions eating dirt or grass. Yet to the dog, this isn't a nasty behavior and it isn't particularly unusual. In fact, just about every dog has engaged in this dining trend and for reasons that make sense to them.
As simple as it may sound, your pup simply could be bored and has turned to the lawn or the dirt in the flower beds for some stimulation. To the canine mind, it just seems like a great idea to add grass and soil to the culinary choices. That's because dogs use their mouths to investigate. If there isn't another dog to play with or a human available to toss a ball, checking out the taste of grass and dirt provides another option for entertainment.
Lack of Minerals
Veterinarians often advise dog owners bothered by Fido's dirt-eating behaviors to do a double check on whether their canine companion is getting enough minerals in his diet. Minerals are contained in dirt, making the consumption of it not necessarily a bad habit. However, eating dirt isn't an efficient method for insuring adequate vitamin and mineral consumption. If your dog regularly chows down on the ground, adding supplements might decrease his desire to do so, and always consult with a qualified veterinarian about the health and welfare of your dog.
It Tastes Yummy
Dogs don't just like meat. They are omnivores -- meaning they eat meat and plants. Grasses come in varied flavors depending on the type of soil it's grown in, the soil's corresponding moisture level, the abundance or lack of fertilizer and the species of grass itself. The change of taste appeals to dogs -- especially ones fed the same old kibbles day after day. Grasses also excite the canine sense of smell. Different grass species give off varied fragrance or scent. Dogs respond to this stimuli in the same manner humans do to the smell of a steak on the grill. It revs up their taste buds and tells their nervous system that grass tastes good.
Need to Vomit
In this scenario, it's a bit like the canine version of sticking one's finger down the throat. A dog experiencing a tummy ache often turns to grass or dirt as a catalyst for throwing up. Again, this is a natural course of events and the dog is just following what Mother Nature intended. The dog's body knows it needs to rid itself of what is causing the gastrointestinal upset. At times, eating dirt or grass can force a canine technicolor yawn.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.